This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

December 21, 2005

BLM to Pursue Increased Wind Power on Public Lands

The U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) announced on December 15th that its Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has completed an environmental review that will allow it to significantly expand its wind energy program on public lands. The Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) establishes broad guidelines for BLM's Wind Energy Development Program, ensuring that the best management practices are used to avoid impacts to at-risk species and migratory birds. With the publication of the PEIS, BLM also is amending 52 land-use plans in nine western states with a goal of installing more than 3,200 megawatts of wind energy. While changes in the land-use plans will speed development of wind energy, individual projects will still require site-specific analysis and permits. Nevertheless, BLM expects to be able to shorten the approval process for new wind energy projects from two or more years to less than a year. Over the past five years, BLM has issued 86 wind energy permits, compared to four issued in the previous five years. See the DOI press release and the Wind Energy Development PEIS Web site.

A new ruling by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will also make it easier for large wind plants to provide a reliable source of power for the electrical grid. The new rules provide greater flexibility for a wind plant to remain connected to the power grid when a momentary fault causes the grid voltage to drop. The FERC ruling adopts a proposal initiated by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and agreed to by both AWEA and the North American Electric Reliability Council. See the AWEA press release and the FERC order (PDF 179 KB). Download Adobe Reader.